Grading the Browns’ 2019 draft
Time once again to take a deep dive into that annual exercise that frustrates the hell out of professional football fans throughout the nation. It is known commonly as the way-too-early grading of the National Football League college draft.
How in the world can all the so-called experts come to a definitive conclusion about the results of a draft when the players haven’t even suited up with their respective teams?
They can’t, of course. But that doesn’t mean they can’t venture opinions based on what they have seen from these players at the collegiate level. As long as they have the pulpit, what’s the problem?
Let’s be honest here. Fans themselves grade these drafts, too, and the only reason they dispute a particular expert’s grade is because they are not in agreement.
Why is it done every year? Because it’s fun to speculate and then look back in two or three years, when the drafts can be graded more accurately, and see how right or wrong they were.
Of course early grades should not be taken too seriously. It provides fans with good argument material, sustaining NFL talk until minicamps, training camps and then the regular season.
The draft grade gamut varies from year to year. The gamut this year for the Browns’ draft runs from a solid A to a C-, which proves once again that one man’s filet mignon is another man’s hamburger. It works that way every year.
The general consensus of the Browns’ draft last year was a shaky B. Turned out, at least after the first year, to be a strong A after General Manager John Dorsey a semi miraculously completely changed the culture of the franchise.
Five of his picks wound up either starting or playing a major role and a sixth has moved up and will start this season. Their contributions were vital in the club smashing numerous losing streaks and winding up a respectable (for them) 7-8-1.
The Rant, wiping egg off its face all season long and with apologies to Dorsey and the great job he did, gave it a C+. A C+!! Yikes!! Well, when you’re wrong, might as well go big.
And that, finally, brings us to this year’s Browns grade. The landscape this year was quite different. No first-round pick. No top-of-the-round selections. Clearly a tougher time than last year for Dorsey and his crew.
The Browns wound up with seven picks, five of them on the defensive side of the football. Of those seven, only two have a shot at becoming starters – second-round cornerback Greedy Williams and fifth-round inside linebacker Mack Wilson.
Williams, who carried a first-round grade from many draft experts, was a surprise name on the board midway through the second round. He is expected to get the starting nod opposite Denzel Ward in the secondary.
Wilson, who carried a second-round grade by some and should have been the third-round choice instead of Sione Takitaki, will be given the opportunity to take the middle linebacker job away from Joe Schobert.
Of the first five selections, Takitaki, fourth-round safety Sheldrick Redwine and round-five placekicker Austin Seibert were clearly reaches. It’s hard to believe they were the best players on the board at the time of their selection.
Takitaki and Redwine, who most likely be included in certain sub packages by defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, were projected to go lower in the lottery.
Seibert, on the other hand, is being brought in to challenge incumbent Greg Joseph, who had an uneven rookie season after replacing Zane Gonzalez. I graduated from the school that says you don’t draft a kicker or punter before round seven, and fifth was way, way, way too high for Seibert.
Rounding out the class are sixth-round tackle/guard Drew Forbes, the lone offensive player chosen, and cornerback Donnie Lewis Jr., both of whom probably will wind up on the practice squad should they fail to make the final 53.
The selections of Williams and Wilson (A- and B+, respectively) have saved this draft in terms of starters. The others fall well short of warranting a high grade and their contributions will be relatively minimal.
If, however, it was Dorsey’s intention to strengthen the special teams and beef up positional depth, mission accomplished. But rarely is drafting in the NFL designed specifically for special teams.
I’m having no problems getting excited about the upcoming season. None whatsoever. But I can’t get excited about what Dorsey accomplished this past weekend.
Final draft grade for 2019: C+ (yep, another C+, but I have a much better chance of being correct with this one)